Sunday, June 01, 2008

Outsourced idea generation

ReadWriteWeb points to OhBoyObama as an "outsourced think tank." The site allows users to submit policy ideas or proposals and the crowd to vote on them. The discussion about the site has focused largely on how it meshes (or doesn't) with the campaign's use of technology and its promises about data should the candidate become President. It is also interesting to examine the growing tech-kudos that the Obama campaign is receiving for its use of blogs, wikis, my.barack.obama, ringtones, twitter, flickr - somewhere I am sure there is a graduate school class on social media that is having a field day using the candidate's campaign as a case study.

I'm more interested in whether or not this strategy provides a forum for ideas that would not otherwise rise to the attention of a Presidential campaign. It also reminded me of the opinion piece several months back in the Chronicle of Philanthropy about the plagiarism of good policy ideas - a column which prompted me to ask if there really was such a problem. This OhBoyObama approach seems to be an approach 180 degrees in the other direction - asking the world to submit good policy ideas on the assumption that the generators of those ideas would like them to become policy more than they care about getting credit for them.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. While folks are pointing to the Obama campaign as the test case for social media practices at work in politics I'd suggest there are lessons for philanthropy and community work as well.


Unknown said...

Thank you for the review of

We would love to work with you on getting this format to work for philanthropy.

Please contact us.
Email: contact at ohboyobama dot com

Jason said...

Great post. I think that the nonprofit/philanthropy blogging world has the opportunity to be a great think tank for new ideas. I hope that my work at can be a think tank of sorts. I think what you are doing at Philanthropy 2173 is a great platform to talk about creative new ideas.
Jason Dick